The girls began to get the acting bug itch and decided they would try to break into show business. But first, they changed their "foreign" sounding name of Douras to Davies, an idea they got after reading the name on a real estate sign. The girls all began acting on stage, and Marion was signed to THE stage event of the early 1900s, the Ziegfeld Follies in 1916.
Marion made her film debut in a fashion reel modeling clothes designed by Lady Duff Gordon (famous also for being a survivor of the Titanic). She made a few other films the coming years and began to create a name for herself and earning money to help support herself and her family. One of the films, Cecilia of the Pink Roses (1918) was the first film she made with the man she would become forever tied to, William Randolph Hearst.
Marion and Hearst had two different ideas about what direction her career should take. He liked seeing her in serious costume dramas, while she preferred comedies because she was just a natural! Her impressions of Pola Negri and Lillian Gish are hilarious! To be able to put her in the kind of pictures he wanted her in, Hearst created Cosmopolitan Pictures. Marion's showbiz friends, actors and directors alike both thought she would be better suited in comedy, but Hearst was very much against it. He didn't like people laughing at his beloved Marion.
She made her last film, Ever Since Eve in 1937. She retired to San Simeon (the huge mansion built by Hearst) and spent her years just being a companion. She still had the itch to get back to work, but she was afraid that Hearst would try again to control her career, and she just did not want to deal with that stress again.
During the 1930s, Heart's fortunes took a drastic decline, and Marion actually had to write a check and sell some of her jewelry to help bail him out. William Randolph Hearst passed away on August 14, 1951. He left over half of his fortune to Marion (His legal wife, Millicent died in 1974. They had 5 sons together).
About two months after Hearst died, Marion married a man named Horace Brown. The marriage was not good, and she filed for divorce from him twice, but the divorce was never finalized.
She is buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Even though Marion was the partner of Hearst for over 40 years, she never had children....or did she? After her death, her niece, Alice Lake came out and said that she was not Marion's niece, but rather her daughter with William Randolph Hearst. She had been told growing up that she had been Marion's sister Rose's daughter. But on her wedding day, Hearst acknowledged her as his daughter. Alice died in 1993 and is buried along with her husband in the Douras family mausoleum. If you look at a picture of Alice, she really does look like Hearst and Marion.
Marion was supposedly the inspiration for the Susan Alexander character in Citizen Kane. Neither she nor Hearst were happy at all with this movie.
She once got President Calvin Coolidge drunk by giving him wine and telling him it was juice.